Rory McLaughlin spent December 2014 as a NoD work exchange participant. In exchange for helping us with events and social media, Rory got access to the space for 1 month and learned a ton by participating in our community! Here’s his story:
I joined the NoD work exchange in early December after I had just finished up Startup Weekend Dallas Edu where I joined a team working on a product called Kinskii (formerly Playii). That team is now a company called Play Without Boundaries. Kinskii is a video chat platform that integrates gaming aimed at families with 2-7 year olds. That first week at NoD, I worked a lot on gathering votes for Kinskii for the Global Startup Battle, as well as building up a social media presence and working on customer validation. I also set out to find interesting people and organizations that I could introduce to NoD and the Dallas startup community. The first group I found was the Dallas Hackers Association, a group that meets once a month to have one of the members give a presentation, which sometimes turns into an open discussion on how to “life” hack a certain topic such as law, home repair, etc.
The following week was packed with events like Startup Marketing Hacks at NoD with Chirag and Ali which is always a great way to get some crowdsourcing done on your particular marketing objective or issue. I also went to Dallas New Tech (DNT) on a Tuesday night which I volunteered for through NoD. At DNT, I heard about a lot of new startups like Rise, which economizes private jet travel, Silicone Arts Labs, which makes a skin spray that hides blemishes better than anything out there, and Glass-Media, which offers projection-based advertising for businesses. I finally got the chance to meet some of the awesome LaunchDFW crew, Bradley, Rachel, and Lauren. I also spoke with Kevin Strawbridge who is currently working on Cardspur which nets you deals with the use of a gift card. That Wednesday, I attended the State of Entrepreneurship to help setup and answer questions for VidiFX founded by MyLin Lam from NoD. VidiFX is an combination of an app and service for enterprise customers looking for a simpler and more affordable way to produce professional marketing videos like promos and testimonials. Thursday evening, I helped NoD setup and teardown at the UX Roast, which was a very successful event. At this event, multiple startups pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that critiques them mostly from a user experience perspective.The startups included:
- Prop by Alex and Diego from Blacklite Labs, a kind of AirBnB for boats
- Mass Catalyst, a micro-investment crowdfunding site
- Cierge, a CRM for restaurants and their patrons.
The next week I got started working with MyLin, a member at NoD, on sales prospecting for GetMobile which does mobile app development for small businesses. That same week I also attended DOCC for the first time which was very enlightening. If you’re interested in technology or startups this is a great place to go for a moderator lead discussion on recent tech-related news. While at DOCC I met Andrew Schulz, the founder of a startup called JoinMeAt which provides businesses with targeted coupon/deal incentives to customers and their friends. Later that week, Chirag and I met up with Andy Cepero, the founder of Prensalista, which simply put, is a comprehensive content cycle management software that also offers a marketplace for freelance content and writers. Ending the week with a bang, we had a great holiday party at NoD which included an exciting ping-pong tournament.
The last week of this amazing opportunity was spent prospecting for GetMobile, continuing validation and marketing for Kinskii, and lastly, getting in touch with some of the local Dallas community colleges to bring them into the startup community fold. Overall this work exchange was a great introduction to the NoD Startup community as well as the overall Dallas startup scene. Through this, I met a lot of great people, helped with some interesting events, and learned more in a month than I ever thought possible. The areas I learned about included social media, lean startups, customer validation, networking, idea generation and execution, marketing, sales, prospecting, pitching, and so much more. One of the biggest realizations I had during this time was that there are a lot of people wanting to help startups out and others that want to share their idea with you. You just have to go out and take the risk and one of the best ways to jump in to any startup community is to offer to help others in any way you can.
Want to learn more about the NoD Work Exchange? Just contact us or reach out to @ChicagoGupta